Two embassies repay huge British parking fines

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The embassies of Kazakhstan and Nigeria in London have paid parking fines worth £40,000 ahead of a government report naming and shaming foreign missions for unpaid penalties, a council said Wednesday.

Westminster City Council said however that it was writing to the heads of state of countries who still have not paid up including US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Kazakh embassy was the worst offender on the council's list but has now coughed up £37,160 (42,216 euros, $59,011) for 627 parking tickets built up from 2007 to 2010, the council said in a statement.

Nigeria's embassy meanwhile paid £3,450 for clocking up 78 parking tickets.

The worst offenders are the embassies of China, Turkey, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, who collectively owe £72,880.

Foreign embassies in London still owe the council a total of £1.1 million.

"Citing 'diplomatic immunity' as an excuse for not paying tickets is clearly unacceptable," said Lee Rowley, the council's cabinet member for parking.

"It's time these diplomats started to respect the rules of the road in the UK (United Kingdom), and stopped thinking they can do what they like at the expense of our taxpayers," he said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has previously complained about the refusal of US diplomats to pay the eight-pound daily charge for the congestion zone in the centre of the capital.

© 2011 AFP

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